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RETURN OF THE BLUES
These back to back European fixtures are good fun – and give the losing team an immediate opportunity for revenge. Look how our encouraging performance down in Clermont last year set the trend for the rest of our season.. Far from cutting their losses and concentrating on the Pro-14, by all accounts Cardiff are targeting this match with a number of their injured players due back. Realistically Cardiff have a minimal chance of progressing (given Glasgow’s good form and the fact Blues still need to go to Scotstoun) but that doesn’t mean they are ready to roll-over.
Cardiff - black and blue
It would be hard to argue against the theory that Sarries had it all to lose and Cardiff all to gain. Both sides were lacking one or two key men, but perhaps Sarries can afford the lack of B&I Lions like George Kruis, Billy V and Liam Williams more than Cardiff could to lose Sam Warburton and a couple of other front-line men. In any event, there is no doubt about the expectation of a bruising game that might, in pugilistic terms, go the full 15 rounds.
WE'LL GET THEM SINGING THE BLUES
This weekend sees the second instalment of European rugby – the back to back fixtures which often decide the group hierarchy (who can forget what happened against Clermont last year!) This year our opponents are Cardiff Blues; the first game at Allianz on Sunday followed by the return at Cardiff Arms Park the following Saturday.
WASP'S THREAT EX-STING-GUISHED
I had mixed thoughts about this game. Both sets of management seemed to have decided that this was a game for which the returning internationals could not be rested, and both wanted the win, not just for table points, but for cementing top four status and, dare it be suggested, for old-fashioned bragging rights.
TIME TO BE INSECTICIDAL
So it should be normal service resumed on Saturday when Wasps visit Allianz Park. The autumn Internationals are over and everyone is back in the fold and hopefully available for selection! But those who were left behind have also done a sterling job which might well give Mark McCall a bit of a selection headache! In addition, Mako must be getting close to fitness and maybe even Isiekwe or Kruis.
SQUEAKY BUM TIME
Woke on Sunday with a bad back; keen still to get to the game, but with it on TV decided to be sensible. Still looked like a cracker with both sides losing a few players to International duty; Sarries with a few more injuries though. With Lozowski returned to us there were only 17 Sarries players unavailable for the game.
GRAB A TIGER BY THE TALE
The autumn international window is finally closing – but with it comes probably our biggest challenge – a visit to Welford Road to take on Leicester Tigers. After recent events they may be wounded tigers but we all know that a tiger is at its most dangerous when it is hurt.
SALE SELL THEMSELVES SHORT
To be honest, this was a game that Sale hoped to win, targeted, could and should have won. They didn’t, and more of that later.
SALING TO THE RESCUE
So after 3 weeks of the Premiership Cup, proper rugby returns to Allianz Park on Saturday when we welcome Sale Sharks. Of course the 2 teams met a couple of weeks ago up north in the other competition, battling out a 15-15 draw.
A MIXED BAG
Saracens and Worcester both made a mockery of my very brief pre-match review, with the home side fielding a very experienced pack, and Worcester rotating to bring a fresh young team to Allianz Park after their old heads secured two bonus point wins in the last weeks.